Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Saturday, 10 April, reflected upon the naxal attack in Bijapur on 3 April, in which 22 security personnel were killed, and said that there was ‘no intelligence failure in the incident.’
In an exclusive interview to The Quint, Baghel cited the topography of the region that makes operations in the area difficult and said that the crackdown on Maoists in the state cannot be compared to that of West Bengal or Andhra Pradesh.
“While comparing the war between the security forces and the naxals in Chhattisgarh with other states, like West bengal or Andhra Pradesh, it has to be noted that the geography of the state is the fundamental difference. The forest is dense and the occupation is scarce. It becomes difficult to catch them (maoists) or surround them,” Baghel said.
“They are at a place where there are no roads or electricity or connectivity. In such situations, the jawans travel for miles for an operation on foot. This is the first time we are going into their nests and carrying out attacks,” Baghel said.
‘Naxals Lost More Men, Not Giving Real Numbers’
Baghel further claimed that the naxals have lost at least 26 of their people in the attack according to the information he has, but are not giving the real death toll.
“In the areas considered to be the headquarters of the naxals, there were 2,000 jawans sent. Three battalions had returned but one battalion got into a clash with the naxals. And this wasn't just a clash, it was a four-hour-long war. Twenty two jawans were martyred but even the naxals faced heavy losses,” Baghel said.
Baghel claimed that while the naxals are admitting to only 3-5 of their people getting killed, the forces killed at least 26 of their men.
“They are frustrated because of development work and they are frustrated because their numbers are depleting. They once had a large presence in districts like Sukma, Dantewada, Bijapur and others. But now, their presence is only limited to some parts of Bijapur and Sukma. Hence, they are frustrated,” he said.
‘Topography Plays Key Role in Operations, No Intel Failure’
Stressing on the topography of the area where the 3 April attack took place, Baghel said that it is easy for the Naxals to escape to the three bordering states of Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
“This area (where the attack took place) is surrounded by three states – Odisha, Telangana and Maharashtra. The Gadchiroli border of Maharashtra is nearby. There are some places of Chhattisgarh in that area where we have to first enter Telangana to reach there. There are many difficult areas like these. After conducting attacks, the Naxals escape to either Telangana, Odisha or Maharashtra,” Baghel said, adding that the problem can't be effectively tackled till a coordination with all the three states is undertaken.
Baghel expressed confidence that the top leader will be surrounded and held by the forces soon.
Denying any intelligence failure, Baghel said that if anybody is found accountable during the investigation, action will be taken.
“I don't agree that there was an intelligence failure. This was a coordinated operation. There were DRG, SPF, CRPF and the CoBRA battalions. The jawans injured or martyred were from all battalions. If there was any fault, we will definitely look to rectify it. The officers are probing it. If anybody was accountable, action will be taken. But according to preliminary investigations, we didn't see any faults,” Baghel said.